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SURF: Announcements of Opportunity

Below are Announcements of Opportunity posted by Caltech faculty and JPL technical staff for the SURF program. Additional AOs for the Amgen Scholars program can be found here.

Specific GROWTH projects being offerred for summer 2019 can be found here.

Each AO indicates whether or not it is open to non-Caltech students. If an AO is NOT open to non-Caltech students, please DO NOT contact the mentor.

Announcements of Opportunity are posted as they are received. Please check back regularly for new AO submissions! Remember: This is just one way that you can go about identifying a suitable project and/or mentor.

Announcements for external summer programs are listed here.

Students pursuing opportunities at JPL must be
U.S. citizens or U.S. permanent residents.

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Project:  Analyzing the significance of affinity variations of cell surface proteins at wiring the nervous system
Disciplines:  Biology, Neuroscience
Mentor:  Kai Zinn, Howard and Gwen Laurie Smits Professor of Biology , (BBE), zinnk@caltech.edu
AO Contact:  Shuwa Xu, shuwaxu@caltech.edu
Background:  Cell surface molecules are involved in multiple steps during the assembly of the correct wiring patterns of the nervous system. We have previously identified two classes of interacting cell surface proteins, known as the DIPs and Dprs, that function in neuronal targeting and synaptic specificity in the fruit fly visual system. DIP (11 members) and Dpr (21 members) have complicated interacting networks with protein-protein binding affinities range over 100 fold. Such variation in affinity has been observed in other cell surface molecules and in other organisms. We would like to investigate the functional significance of varied affinities among cell surface molecules, and how this variation affects protein functions, and thus neuron behaviors.
Description:  In this project, we will use CRISPR/Cas9 technology to modify genomic sequence endogenously and change protein affinity. We will also make transgenic animals that express exogenous proteins with varied affinities. These animals will be analyzed on neuronal wiring in the nervous system. In this project you will get to learn cloning, molecular biology, imaging techniques, and fun neuroscience!
References:  (1) Carrillo, R.A., O ? zkan, E., Menon, K.P., Nagarkar-Jaiswal, S., Lee, P.T., Jeon, M., Birnbaum, M.E., Bellen, H.J., Garcia, K.C., and Zinn, K. (2015). Control of synaptic connectivity by a network of Drosophila IgSF cell surface proteins. Cell 163, 1770–1782.
(2) Cosmanescu F, Katsamba PS, Sergeeva AP, Ahlsen G, Patel SD, Brewer JJ, Tan L, Xu S, Xiao Q, Nagarkar-Jaiswal S, Nern A, Bellen HJ, Zipursky SL, Honig B, Shapiro L. Neuron. 2018 Dec 19;100(6):1385-1400.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.10.046. Epub 2018 Nov 19.
(3) Xu S, Xiao Q, Cosmanescu F, Sergeeva AP, Yoo J, Lin Y, Katsamba PS, Ahlsen G, Kaufman J, Linaval NT, Lee PT, Bellen HJ, Shapiro L, Honig B, Tan L, Zipursky SL. Neuron. 2018 Dec 19;100(6):1369-1384.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.11.001. Epub 2018 Nov 19.

Student Requirements:  General laboratory skills (pipetting, agarose gels, buffer preparation, etc) and Bi 10 level skills are preferred. Molecular biology and genetics courses help (Bi8, Bi9). Strong preference for ambitious junior students that are eager to begin lab work during the spring term and are willing to continue with the lab work during the school year and the summer. We can talk about the details on this.

Programs:  This AO can be done under the following programs:

  Program    Available To
       SURF    Caltech students only 

Click on a program name for program info and application requirements.


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